Wednesday, March 09, 2011

i almost never write at home; but invariably i write in the airport on my way back. here goes 1 of 2 such drafts fr this last trip.

return: on leaving again

It is true that there are free samples of rum

being served at the airport. It is true

that the server will give you any amount

you need and ask you to come back.

It is true that the woman at the food stand

will bat her eyelids when your father

introduces you as his son. It is true

that her coo-coo, callaloo, steamed fish taste

like you imagine her body feels. It is true

you are leaving Trinidad before carnival.

And if it is true what the legend says,

that if you eat the meat of the cascadoo

you are condemned to return here

to end your days, then it is true

that what you return for is what this sun

does to your complexion; that you return

for vinegary, hot brine soaked into a pig’s foot,

that you return for the rhythm section’s argument

of iron, skin and wood.

At the River Lime, where the Stags are beastly,

you return for the barefoot Indian men

who join in to cheer on Ireland against England

in the Cricket World Cup, as the rambunctious

Irish toss colony like a hand grenade, and go after

the impossible English total like their children’s

legacies depend on it – which they do.

and you return for your boys’ next day

demolition of Bangladesh, for the way

they remind you again, for a moment,

of your boyhood heroes who came at Empire

with bats like blades. You return

for the Bon Air football club. You return

to see your name on things – on walls,

street signs, people’s mouths, the laughter

of the babies in your aunt’s pre-school. You return

for the woman who pops her waist hard

to thrust her ass into you and now your hips

are nunchucks, pistons; and the music is soca,

which is in its way an argument with iron

an argument against understanding, against bone,

against heat, but also, for it; an argument in favor

of rum’s fire, in favor of non-restraint,

in favor of your thumbs’ smear

through this woman’s sweat, your mouth

close to her neck, deep into your squat

and grind. You return for the pelau

and the geera and the goat and the 3:30AM

doubles on Cane Farm Road.

If it is true that you only ever return

to the land of your parents, the land

of your making and undoing, then Trinidad

is where you return to become your becoming

again, for your complexion’s call against

your shirt collar. You return for Arouca

to call you Ms. Bonair’s son or Teacher Merle’s

nephew. You return to be identified

as being the last in a line, for the girl

showing you her mouth spread hard

against a red-mango seed. Your boys

will call you out to extempo

to a cuatro, for a sweet through pass

on the field, for another story.

If this is true, then the sound of the plane’s

rising around you, is not a leaving

and only a song you can play back,

a song that lies and you know now

you return for how you learn to walk

slow in the hot sun again, for your mother’s

gossip of laughter, your father’s 68th year,

your best friend’s love, the corner bar

holding you like its name suggests

La Luna, La Luna, the moon, the moon;

you come back inevitable as tide.